facade or foundation?
facade (noun) | the face of a building, especially the principal front that looks onto a street or open space.
- an outward appearance that is maintained to conceal a less pleasant or creditable reality.
A few years back, we were invited to a soirèe. Don’t you love the sound of that word? Friends of friends had exclaimed, “Come and join us, it will be an experience!”
It was a swanky event in a lovely private home on a tiny island, just a stone’s throw from the mainland. Mingling guests would hear classical music performed on the lawn overlooking the bay.
Dang! Of course we’d go!
So I carefully stepped into my high-heeled slippers (not a good choice) like Cinderella invited to the ball. We tiptoed onto the private boat that ferried us a short distance to the big house on the bay.
It was a beautiful, surreal evening, I must say. The summer sky was a shade I only know because Greg described it to me as Parish Blue. If you don’t know what that is, Maxfield Parish (an artist from another century) was famous for the luminous shade of blue that he frequently used in his works of art.
That evening we lingered outdoors, sipping tea, serenaded by a string quartet and the soothing sound of water gently lapping nearby. By the second hour of polite conversation, my cramped toes were crying enough so I slouched against the nearest pillar to slip off my shoe. As I ran my hand across the smooth cool surface, something caught my eye. The beautiful, pearl grey stone pillars surrounding the loggia were made of artificial material. Now, I’m no builder, but even I knew these pillars were not substantial enough to support the deck above us. They were merely decorative. Underneath the cleverly applied paint, these columns were architectural foam. Faux? I could hardly believe it.
In this beautiful residence where no expense was spared, these pillars were meant to impress, not support. It was a façade, not the foundation it appeared to be.
Some things appear to be genuine.
Whether it is a work of art, or jewelry, or building materials, we can be fooled by appearances. But when it comes to a genuine spiritual life, nothing is more disappointing than a phony.
But the reverse is also true. There are also those loveliest of souls who, without presence or show, display the beauty of Christ’s character. Jesus Himself had “no form or comeliness…He was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:2-3). And yet, He is the King of glory (Psalm 24:8).
Time will tell…
…whether the foundation is real or a façade.
Let this be a warning and a comfort to all of us who are called by God, whatever our role or ministry gift might be. “Man looks on the outward appearance [the façade] but God looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).
We must constantly and prayerfully examine ourselves, our words, and our works to see that our prayers are offered with integrity of motive as well as biblical truth.
I have lived long enough to see impressive ministries, theologically sound, crumble beneath the weight of moral compromise. All is not what it appears to be. At the end of the day, we will stand before the One who is the building inspector of every soul.
God help us. Convict us. May we daily repent of our pride and pretense and seek to live true and authentic.
“Each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work” (1 Corinthians 3:10-13 NIV).